Saying the facility has "as many holes as Swiss cheese," Gabriel told daily paper Bild that it remained unclear who was ultimately to blame for the serious safety violations at the site in Lower Saxony.
"The fact is, operator Helmholtz Zentrum and the state mining office in Lower Saxony did not stick to the required regulations for radioactive protection," he said.
Only after Asse was handed over to a new operator could it be determined if the facility needed to be shut down, Gabriel told the paper. “At that point we can take action,” he said.
Earlier this week Gabriel accused the operators of depositing highly radioactive waste for decades at the site. Some experts are concerned the moist salt deposits could also damage containers stored there. He presented his findings as part of a report on the state of Asse, which was determined to be in worrying condition earlier this year.